COVID-19: Controversy hits Bundesliga as player hugs, kisses teammate after win

Updated: May 18, 2020, 08:23 IST | AFP | Berlin

Controversy hits Bundesliga on resumption as victors Hertha Berlin's Boyata hugs, kisses teammate Grujic in a breach of social distancing rules; team duck punishment in Hoffenheim

Hertha Berlin's Dedryck Boyata (left) plants a kiss on teammate Marko Grujic during a Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Hertha Berlin's Dedryck Boyata (left) plants a kiss on teammate Marko Grujic during a Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim on Saturday. Pic/AFP

Hertha Berlin players won't be punished for hugging and kissing as they enjoyed a much-needed victory when German football resumed on Saturday, the Bundesliga confirmed after the match. In order to obtain the political green light to resume this weekend, the Bundesliga agreed strict rules to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Yet, while players in other games celebrated with elbow taps or solo dance routines, Hertha's players hugged and kissed as they won 3-0 against Hoffenheim. Hertha started the game 13th in the table with only seven wins in 25 games and under new management.

Their Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata kissed teammate Marko Grujic on the cheek after their team's first goal. "The fact is that this is part of football," said Bruno Labbadia, who was named as Jurgen Klinsmann's replacement during the lockdown. "We've been tested so many times that we can allow it. If you can't celebrate anymore, the whole thing breaks down. I'm just glad that the team had reason to cheer today. Emotions are part of the game." The German Football League (DFL) had presented the German authorities with a 51-page document, which convinced the federal government and regions that football could be allowed to resume behind closed doors.

'Avoid hand contact' In an accompanying document sent to clubs, the DFL said hugging and hand contact in celebration of goals should be avoided and that preference should be given to "elbow or foot contact". But on Saturday, a DFL spokesman confirmed there would be no punishment, as it had only offered "guidelines" on how goals should be celebrated. "For celebrations, only advice has been given and therefore there can be no sanctions," a DFL spokesman said. Regular testing on As part of its programme to ensure a safe return, the DFL has tested players and coaches regularly for the virus and teams have been in quarantine for the past week.

German politician wants tighter rules

A senior German politician expects the Bundesliga to tighten up instructions on how to celebrate goals after some players hugged—breaching strict hygiene protocol—when the league resumed this weekend. "Football has an extreme function to be a role model, so we should stick to our instructions and pay attention to it next week," Markus Soeder, state minister for Bavaria, told broadcaster Sport1.

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